Reign (Marko Delacroix #5)(4)

By: Alaska Angelini

Tessa’s lips pressed together. “I’m honored by your offer, but I must decline at this time. I wish to stay with my husband and run my city. I believe I am more than capable, and our laws state that power rules over years of existence. And you’re right. You could be our leader for thousands of more years. We have plenty of time for lessons. If you’ll excuse us.”

Tessa bowed and I suppressed my smile as I mirrored the gesture. Aetas didn’t speak as we turned and headed for the door. Again, eyes were on us as we made our way down the aisle. By the time we were sliding into the limo, I could barely contain my need to kiss her. The door shut and I pulled her into my arms.

“I can’t believe you just did that. You know you pissed him off, yes?”

A laugh drifted between us as I was already moving in to press my lips against hers. At the sweep of our tongues, she moaned, wrapping her arms around my neck.

“I may have angered him, but he went too far. First, trying to take my crown. Then, trying to get me to take lessons with Hunter. As if I could do either of those. I’d kill Hunter, or at least try to. He knows that.”

I couldn’t resist kissing her again. “He does. But he can’t help but give you a hard time. He’s Aetas. He thinks he can control every aspect of our lives.”

The limo started moving. My hand settled across the back of Tessa’s neck while I drew her in to deepen our kiss. Strands were escaping from the intricately mass of woven curls pinned at the back of her head. The tickling mingled with the butterflies that still fluttered in my stomach from her nearness.

“I want to taste you,” I whispered, going back to duel with her tongue. “I don’t want to wait until tonight.”

“Don’t let me stop you.”

The voice had both me and Tessa’s heads turning to look further down the seat. Aetas sat there with a devious smile on his face. The threatening sound that left me was unstoppable.

“Were we not finished talking?” Tessa eased from my lap, but sat against the side of my leg, staying close.

“You walk a very thin line with me, Princess.” Anger once again seeped into his tone. “I offered you a gift and you denied my teachings, dismissing yourself from my presence. Do you not give regard to who I am? What you did is not done amongst vampires of any rank,” he roared.

Tessa’s head lowered, but her eyes didn’t leave him. “You do not need anything from me, Aetas. You’ve made that quite clear over the last few weeks. Your mind is set on Hunter—a human who killed me because of his hate for our kind. You turned him, despite the fact that he should have paid for his crimes. Instead of dying like our laws state, you gave him what should have been granted to me,” she said, getting louder. “Now you come back after I’ve settled in my city and you want me to leave my people and my husband to battle it out with Hunter, if and when, you find him? I don’t think so.”

“Marko is your mate, not your husband. You are not human anymore.”

Tessa’s back stiffened and I could feel her need to explode in argument. Her temper was rising, igniting my own.

“Mate, husband, whatever you wish to call it, he is mine, regardless. I find it astonishing that out of everything I just said to you, that is what you respond with.”

Aetas’ hand flicked through the air. “The rest is something I already know. It doesn’t deserve a response. It’s done. Hunter will benefit us. He’s a leader.”

“He’s a murderer! He hates us and kills us off, and he will do it again. You think he will lead us, but he will not. He will pick us off one by one until we are no more. Mark my words,” Tessa said, leaning her upper body in his direction. “Hunter will not be one with us. His intentions will be that of when he was human. He poses a grave threat, Master. If you listen to anything I say at all, please hear me when I tell you, I know him. Hunter Moretti is a danger to all of us. He will come with everything he has. Marie Bardot has seen it.” She paused. “If you were smart, you’d be getting the other cities prepared for him and the humans he’ll win over. War is on us, Your Highness. Our survival will depend on you. I’m willing to die for my people. The only question is—Are you?”

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